Now, Look Here (Publicistics) — Part Three

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: We, The Silly People

Chapter 17 (v.1) - Better not to live to pension age!

Submitted: May 06, 2018

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Submitted: May 06, 2018





(tragicomic saga about Bulgarian pensions)

Now, gentlemen, the situation with the pensions in Bulgaria, frankly speaking, is tragic, but as far as the tragic and the comic, according to the ancient Eastern sages, with whom I agree, often touch one another, and to laugh, after all, is better than to cry, then I am writing this material as feuilleton. To laugh is especially good when one has nice teeth, even if they are false or bogus, which one can show to everybody, or when the person, or rather the woman, has stuck in her tongue some gold or gilded push-pin, or something very like this, only with a small ruby or some other precious stone, and because of this opens so wide her mouth that is seen her insatiable (for pleasures) throat, or her tonsils, if she has still not cut them off. Well, if one has not teeth (like, say, your author), then he can smile ironically or cynically, and this, all the same, is better than to pour rivers of tears.
Because our transition to democracy, which continues for more than 25 years now — and it continues because we still live on the average 3-4 times worse than under the totalitarianism — for some of us proceeds good, but for others it is quite probable to finish only to the end of 21st century. Yet let us move in succession. But have in mind that I am just now going on pension, so that I have learned something, these are pretty exact calculations, it isn't guessing on coffee grounds.
So that we will begin with this, that in order to go on pension in Bulgaria one has to have nearly 40 years length of service (38, but this is in the moment, and they increase gradually and after a pair of years will become 40), and have at least 64 years (I round the numbers a little for easy calculations). If one has still not so much service then after a pair of years, now it is nearly 66 years, he or she can go on pension even having only 15 years service. So that, gentlemen, grin, rejoice, because it turns out that even with 15 years length of service one can, thanks to our democracy, retire at last.
Though this is not exactly so, naturally, this is the so called half pension, for which before, id est under the bad and inhuman totalitarianism, for this were necessary only 10 years (if I am not wrong). And for normal retirement in the last century was required age of 60 years for the men and 55 for the women. So that for 25 years (to round the calculations) the pension age for men has increased with 5 years, and for women with whole 10 years. Calculate now, children, under this same rate of growth of age, on what age will retire men and women after one century (or in 2115). Well, I don't know how you calculate, but for the women this will make more than hundred. That's it. And this is normal situation, but we have had in Bulgaria even more "normal" (understand, abnormal) situation in the first years of the transition, somewhere maybe up to 1995th, when men could retire on 57 and women on 53, because, you see, our eminent UDF persons, i.e. the only real democrats, from the Union of Democratic Forces (which union nowadays cannot get even one percent of the votes), thought that the old people only hinder in vain the young ones to make career and due to this, the sooner we will get rid of them, the better.
Further the system of calculating of the pension is relatively simple and, as is said, transparent, because is calculated the gross income for everybody for all years of his (or her) service, it is related to the average income for the country, in tables, all decent and properly, and in this way is obtained the individual coefficient (IC) for the person. Then the average salary in the moment — mark, in the moment, the pensions are perpetually corrected, just unbelievable (or at least in the beginning are calculated correctly, I have not yet enough statistics for to state this firmly) — is multiplied by this coefficient and is obtained the basic income for calculation of the pension. After this the last income is multiplied by the percents obtained in the following elementary (and smart) way, counting each year of service for one percent (say, 20 years and 6 months gives 20.5%), where with PLS will denote these percents of length of service. Then comes one ... mysterious coefficient, which we can denote as MC, and which now in Bulgaria is 1.1, and the obtained PLS, or as income multiplied by PLS, is multiplied by this coefficient and this gives the percentage or amount of the pension. Even — I have grasped also this — exists some social threshold, called minimal pension (MP), which enters in force if the calculated pension turns to be less than this threshold.
It can be said that this is one directly brilliant system. And if it is such than it most probably is borrowed from the West. Our democratic development, in the framework of European Union, goes directly in European manner, rejoice gentlemen, as well also ladies (especially when your pension age now is equal with that of the men — an absolute emancipation, directly emanciabsolutization, right?)
Perfectly. I have no words. Yet it is better not to live to pension age, as you will understand now. Because .exist a pair of hooks or catches, on which are caught the democratic optimists. Most significant of them are two. The first is that the minimal pension does NOT correspond with the minimal income, not on your nelly, gentlemen! The minimal pension correlates with the average income and is a bit (about 10 percents, yet everything is individual) HIGHER then the average income, this is a social umbrella. It exists even a maximal pension which is not more an umbrella, but a hit on the head (with the handle of the umbrella, I suppose), which enters in effect when one has gained too much and something has to be taken back from him. So that if you are an average worker, with average income, with IC exactly equal to 1, then you will receive 1.1*PLS from your salary (which is equal to the average). Id est if you have worked 20 years, then you wil receive 22% from the average salary, or the minimal, what from both sums is higher.
Well, very well, yet there's nothing well in this, as was sung in one song (Russian), because 40 years service this is not 10 and not 20, this is an awful lot of years, there are not many people who live to this, and the young ones simply don't believe that they will live to such age. Some 20 or 25 years is good, and it was so under the totalitarianism, then 20 years sufficed, and now 40 are needed. Enviable social achievement, of course. Well, some may say that it is so also on the West, as with the equal age of pensioning for men and women, too. Yeah, but this is firstly worse than it was under the (bad, don't forget) totalitarianism, and then it is with "national differences". Because if our average person has worked during this awfully long period of 40 years, then he (or she) will receive at best 44% from his salary. And 44% is far away from 70%, how it has to be on the West, and how it was (or at least it was said so) in Bulgaria earlier, under the "people's" democracy, in contrast with our current, definitely, anti-people's one. It was even spoken earlier that about 60% receive such people with big salaries, and those who have smaller, then to them is given close to 80% (for what I can not vouch).
So, and now let us look more precisely how much will receive a person if he has worked 40 years, what, as we already said, is pretty much. Well, this will give 44% of the average salary, which in March 2016 was 730 lv, or 320 lv (1 lv = 1/2 euro, for reference). Is 320 lv much or not (it has already, after half an year, become a bit more) is another question; for living in Bulgaria this as if is not a little, when the minimal monthly salary (MMS) is 420 lv in the same time, but here we compare the average with the minimal, what is not correct. And by this incorrectness we have that 320 / 420 = 76% (what would have been good if we have compared average with average, yet by us this is not so), and in addition is given that the average pension in Bulgaria in this time is 340 lv, what means that the average number of pensioners have worked nearly 41 years, in what I, by God, just don't believe! The people, you see, die, little by little, and quite a big number of them live not to pension age, say, a priori, about 15 percents, and then in the first five years of receiving of their pension leave for the other world another 15, if not 20 percents. Only those who exceed 70 years they die gradually. This must be so, when the cards for city transport for pensioners are still pretty expensive, like those for school and university students, somewhere about the half of normal cards, but after 70 they drop at once another 2.5 times (and earlier it was more than 3 times). So that in the best case this average pension of 3/4 of minimal salary is computed for 85% of those who have paid pension contributions nearly 40 years and after 5 years they will remain 70% of all from whom money was transferred to the pension fund.
But here also must be some catch — there is no way without this in Bulgaria —, like for example that the average pension is calculated for those who retire by this paragraph, with service of more then 38 years, but there is a way also with less years of service (to what we will come), as well also many people — say, about 15% — can not at all get whatever pension (even 15 years work is not so little), and they either receive some social pensions, or receive nothing at all. So that most probably this average pension concerns roughly half of the pensioners with service more than 38 years, because somewhere is cited that 1/4 of all pensioners receive the minimal pension, and then maybe another 1/4 of them receive pension bigger than the average bur smaller than the maximal. In short, don't you think that our pensioners receive on the average about 3/4 of MMS, what is relatively decent, no, the average pensioner, if we average over all who must receive pension, then he or she will hardly gather more than half MMS, and many others will get significantly less than this (as you will see now).
So that let us begin to decrease the years of service, because exactly then it becomes interesting (and tragic, of course — the funniest thing in life is when the others suffer, right?). In my view the average must be about 30 years of service, what also in not a little, and such person will receive 33% from the average salary of the same 730 lv, what gives 240 lv, what is nearly twice less than the minimal salary. And if he has worked 25 years, then he (and surely also she) will have 27.5% or 200 lv, what now is definitely less than half of the MMS. But if he has 20 years of service then his 22% will give 160 lv, and exactly then comes in effect the minimal pension (and for this paragraph), which in March 2016 was 157 lv. In other words, the minimal pension is received with 20 years service, which in the totalitarian years sufficed for receiving of pension and must have given about 80% from the personal salary, but at least 60%. This is now the second important "national peculiarity" — lessening thrice of the minimal pensions in comparison with the bad totalitarian years. Do you begin to grasp a little or still do not? Well, if you don't, then I will add that the media cite somewhere that the minimal salary in ... Africa, and more precisely in the country Gabon turns to be 2.5 times higher than in the (democratic) Bulgaria. Hurray, gentlemen!
And let us now laugh (or, as I said, weep) over the situation of such people, like your author, who have barely scraped together 15 years of service for a half pension. Well, there everything falls down, there is another table, and because of this the threshold named minimal pension (and which correlated with the average one) is already (in March 2016) not 157 but 133 lv, what is now 18% from the average salary (of 730 lv in this time), and what can be named super-minimal pension (SMP). If we put this SMP of 133 lv in proportion even to the MMS of 420 lv, then we will get 31%. If you are interested how is it possible to live on 18% of the average income (or just a bit below one third of the minimal one), then this is another matter, I have discussed it in various places, and specially for intellectuals (like me) this is not directly impossible, because they are used to live poor, this is difficult mainly for the common people, but let us not diverge with this here. Let me better explain to you my fundamental error by calculating of my IC, or the next trick of our specialists in social welfare. So it is said that one can choose only three consecutive years from his period of work, and applying the necessary document for the received during this time money, and dividing this money to the total income for this time, from tables, he will get his IC. Well, my IC, of Bulgarian intellectual, with tertiary education (rather with two such educations and a bit more than this), research assistant, turned to be in the chosen by me period 1.28 (and on the average about 1.2), what is quite decent.
Yet it is not so, naturally (in Bulgaria nothing is so like it has to be, I think you have already grasped this), because there were three years in the very end of the century when it was allowed to pay alone some payments for the pension fund, and when I have paid something for 2 years and 3 months, but I personally have not worked then and have not required to include them, still, our specialists think that they also have to take part in the calculation of IC. So, and now try to guess what turned my IC to be, ah? Ha, ha, ha, laugh gentlemen, this is terribly funny, because my common IC became 0.943, for the simple reason that during the time when I paid alone contributions it was ... 0.5 (even with one percent less)! So it is, dirty intellectual, it is not enough that you have studied in university twice, but in addition have not at all worked for our national democracy, so that it serves you right!
Well, by such IC, and for 16 years service, it comes to about 18% but from already diminished average salary, what gives 123 lv, yet because our Bulgarian democracy cares also for "dirty intellectuals", then I received the minimal pension (on this table) from 133 levs (less then 70 euro, and for a month, not a day). Though it grows a little, so that while I write this material it has become already 137 lv, and it is not excluded that till the end of the year it will become 140 levs. So-o, well, when it is so then your author, as person with mathematical education, decided that it is possible to require recalculation of the pension, not for 16.25 years of service, bur exactly for 15 years (and nearly one month above this) adding only 1999th year from the self insurance, and then his, i.e. my, IC will become 1.082, what is more or less decent, yet because the length of service falls down a little then the total sum grows up to 131 lv, but is still less than 133, so that this recalculation is of purely theoretical interest. It is so, yes, but mark that for smaller length of service in Bulgaria you can get bigger pension! And now, say that we are not a country of paradoxes, ah?
So, in short, the pensioning in Bulgaria, for those who have nearly died of working 40 years, gives minimal pension of 80 euro in month, what is 2.5 times less than in Gabon, and average pension (for those half-dead people) of 160 euro, but for those who have worked only 20 years, how it was required under the totalitarianism, the minimal pension is 67 euro, and the average (with the same length of service) is again 80 euro and again for a whole month. And in addition to this now all retire approximately 10 years later than it was under the bad totalitarianism. And the age of retirement grows incessantly and will grow until it reaches 67-68 years (even with 40 years service). And how one 67 years old grandpa or grandma will work 8 hours daily is their own business, right? The democracy gives them the right to accept or to refuse, so that how they want.
OK, we have laughed, or have cried, depending on the people, and now let us cast a glance at this how the individually accumulated sums in the pension fund are used. So in the moment the payments only for pension (without sick leave) amount up to 20% from the working salary, roughly speaking, though there were periods when was necessary to pay 30 and more percents, and not from the minimal, but from twice increased one, what had to correspond to the average. Further the calculations are easy, and if you have also an average income, then for 40 years service, by 20%, accumulates in the pension fund as much as you can use for 20 years by 40%. Similarly 30 years by 20% you can use for 20 years by 30, alike also 20 years by 20 gives the same 20 years by 20%. So that if you receive pension for 20 years more everything is more or less justified, but the thing is that we have very low average life expectancy, it is on the average 75 years now, and if you retire on 65 (those with 40 years service retire on 64, and those with 15 on 66, what on the average gives 65), then you live twice less than it was supposed and half of your money remains in the fund or goes to the state. Well, then try to live longer, yes?
Exactly this is the main conclusion — the important thing is not the amount of pension but how long you will receive it. So that if you work less then you have more chances to live longer, for you have spent yourself less, like your author. Further, if you alone pay your pension insurance, then you better pay no installments at all, only try to gather somehow the minimal necessary number of years, because if you pay little, then your coefficient falls, and to pay much out of your own pocket is directly unethical and indecent. The pension, anyway, is not for the wealthy, it is for the poor, and however small it was this is better than nothing. Even this super-minimal pension, which I decided to call "zor-zaman" pension (this is Turkish dialect that means "on the off-chance", yet it is not used as adjective, here your author improvises), is better that nothing, and if you have where to live, if you are healthy et cetera, then it is substantial help in your old age.
This what is murderous for the pensioners in Bulgaria is not the amount of pension, but the prices on communal expenses and on medicaments, this is what does not correspond with the pension. Because if the pensions by us have fallen 2-3 times in comparison with the totalitarian years, then the communal expenses, such like central heating, electricity, transport, and so on, have grown at least 10 times, also the medicaments at least 5-6 times, also the subsidized food products like bread and milk about three times, like also the entire medical care, which earlier costed nothing, yet it can't be said that was worth nothing. Even with minimal pension but healthy the remaining years can be lived better, than with average one, but with average expenses on doctors and medicaments, or also with maximal, but with maximal such expenses. Due to this it is better not to live to the pension age, because we are the most right-inclined than the wealthy countries, or when we must have the possibly left-oriented capitalism we have the possibly right-oriented, in Bulgaria, in the country of paradoxes. Yet when I have lived to this time, then I can do nothing, right? I will simply try, when I have put for 16 years money in the pension fund, to use my pension at least 16 years, what means to live till 83. Well, a bit much, but not that this is directly impossible. I will try. Not for myself, naturally, but for my readers. Ha, ha.

Sep 2016









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