State pension funds, funding, and options

Felix Salmon writes on the question of appropriate pension plans for state systems (emphasis on teacher retirement systems) in Reuters…however, the comment section offers a superb range of thoughts by non-experts on the matter of state pensions as well.

1. Is a 7-8% return reasonable to expect (smoothed over time) in the future?
2. If a different system is used from here on out? what are appropriate transitions?…Felix compares to 401k plans as being totally inadequate but there are other proposals.
3. What about the question of buyouts?
4. Interestingly several of the commenters were using the MA teachers retirement system as an example, which makes it useful for the AB post here.
5. What are the incentives inherent in the current system? (ie. most value is actually ‘accrued’ in the last five (?10) years of acummulated contribution for a pensioner? Not unlike any plan based on yearly contributions over decades.
6. The meme of baby boomers/versus younger contributors was brought forward but without numbers…this also could be subsumed under #2 and #3.
7. What is ‘underfunding’ in this context?