Thursday, October 24, 2013

They Are Not Asking

See this recent Melanie Hicken/ report: Pensions Ask Retirees to Pay Back Tens of Thousands. Hah, such a headline! They aren't asking. The very first line of the report says "Some pension plans have overpaid retirees for years -- now they're demanding their money back."

According to the report, the pension plan for American Water Works Co. is demanding about $45,000 from 67-year-old Carol Montague as a result of more than five years of over-payments.

Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 73 Pension Fund is demanding "recoupment" from nearly 600 retired sheet metal workers and their spouses because of miscalculated pensions from 1974 to 2004. Not only is the Pension Fund cutting the payments to the correct amounts, but then cutting even more to recoup the losses caused by their own mistakes. Then they demand yet more for interest. Then they demand up-front payments if they calculate that the victims will not live long enough to pay back an adequate amount.

For example, 75-year-old Carole Grant was told that she owed almost $61,000 for nearly 20 years of over-payments on her deceased husband's pension – she was paid $349 per month when she should have been paid $249. She has been "asked" to make a $54,000 up-front payment.

Miscalculated payments since 1974? It seems to that there is a statute of limitations for even the most serious crimes, but it does not appear that the poor are ever off the hook to rich pension plans. Ms Grant's husband probably thought he was helping provide for her with his pension plan.

According to the report, Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center in Washington, D.C., believes that imposing a statute of limitations and other measures would help.

Finally, 63-year-old Ed Cochran has been told that he owes the fund nearly $100,000, of which over $42,000 is interest. Mr Cochran paid years of inflated federal taxes and child support based on his miscalculated pension payments. We wonder what his chances are of getting his excess tax and alimony payments back?

As far as is concerned, these cases are just additional examples of the exploitation of the poor. That is, those who can defend their wealth taking ever more from those who cannot. Here is the deal: The rich make the mistakes and the poor pay for them.

These cases are so obviously unjust. However, if you think that additional laws and regulations will fix these problems, we have to ask why they have not been implemented already. We will not speculate about that right now. We will simply point out that these injustices would not happen under the system.

The reason is that on the other side of capitalism, the basics would already be covered for Ms Montague, Ms Grant, and Mr Cochran. Every participant in the internal markets would get a basic living. Individuals could improve their retirement by saving money in the internal currency, savings that would never end up in the coffers of the rich because they could not own it. It could not be transferred into an external currency account.

Furthermore, the internal currency accounts would be protected by the ability of the government to print the internal currency at will to make up for Bernie Madoff-style fraud or John Corzine-style misunderstandings. 100% of such losses, if it ever became necessary, would be made good.

Finally, there would no longer be any huge unexpected debts created for poor pensioners because of someone else's mistake. There would no longer be attempts to collect on loans that have been forgiven or discharged – so-called zombie debt.

We have only touched the surface of how rotten our economic system really is. We cannot fight these kinds of things as weak individuals against strong groups organized by those who want to exploit us. We have to join together, separate ourselves from them, and get the government on our side. Support

The way capitalism should be.

Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.

TheOtherSideOfCapitalism (

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