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While state and local governments furiously pare budgets by laying off and furloughing workers, retired bureaucrats who receive defined-benefit pensions (rather than flexible 401(k) retirement accounts) continue to receive fixed payouts. According to a California organization advocating that government retirement benefits be changed from pensions to 401(k) accounts, one retired fire chief in northern California gets $241,000 a year, and a retired small-town city administrator's pension is $499,674.84 per year, guaranteed.

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