"This week's legal decision on Detroit's bankruptcy means Motown pensioners will take a hit, which is unfortunate if unavoidable. But there's a lesson in this for government workers who have been told that defined-benefit pensions are safer than 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans.
"We sympathize with the Detroit retirees who will now suffer after years of service. But they ought to aim their ire at the politicians and union chiefs who told them the lie that government pensions are forever."
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Unfortunate if Unavoidable
"It is with great sadness that we must impoverish you more. So sorry. So very, very sorry." We seem to hear this kind of thing more and more as an explanation why the poor must be made poorer. See for example the following editorial piece about Detroit's bankruptcy and it effect on pensions in a recent Wall Street Journal: Detroit's Painful Pension Lesson. Here is what it says.
At tosoc.org, we find this kind of attitude deplorable in the current economic situation. For several reasons, we think it would be better for the editors of the Journal to just say nothing at all about the shabby treatment of Detroit pensioners. First, your vaunted private companies lie about the safety of their pensions, too. Holier-than-thou attitudes are not called for. Second, your sympathies would be more believable if you advocated bail-outs for pensioners like the bail-outs that saved US banks. But you do not have anything useful to suggest. You just accept that additional suffering by the poor is "unavoidable."
Finally, the editors of the Journal suggest that what is going on is that workers unwisely trusted politicians and union leaders. We think that what is really going on is that the Great Recession has blown the US "social contract" apart. Trillions extra are spent to save the rich but the poor get only crocodile tears. The idea used to be that years of service in the US would be rewarded by financial security. Not everyone could be rich, but most could at least build up a secure retirement.
That is no longer true. The idea now is that the rich will inherit the earth, including the pensions of the poor. The idea is that the rich will continue to create conditions, crisis after crisis, under which it will be unfortunate but unavoidable that the savings of the poor will be transferred to the rich.
There is no reason for us to stand idly by and let that happen. We must take control of our own financial security and stop entrusting it to the rich. As tosoc has said before, the best way to do that is to separate ourselves financially from the rich. They should not control our currency. They should not be able to buy our politicians. We should deal with them collectively, not individually, and with the same shrewdness that they deal with us. Multiple exclusive currencies and markets is the way. Support tosoc.org.
The way capitalism should be.
Socialism for the socialists and capitalism for the capitalists.
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