DEAR MR REICH

So happy to be your Facebook friend, and that you are willing to share your thoughts with us.

A question, but first some background.

Within the current argument about working in the public sector, including cities failing and owing pensions they cannot pay, old discussions with my father, who worked for the Army, are coming back into my consciousness.  We always knew that were he working in the private sector, he would be making much more money.  We lived a middle class life, had what we needed, and really were not in contact with people much different than we were.

huey

By the time he died at age 47, my dad had attained the grade of 15 in St. Louis and was in procurement for the Army.  He bought the helicopters for the Viet Nam effort.  We could not put political comments in our yard at election time and regularly our neighbors were questioned about our lifestyle.  Did we have a lot of fancy cars, that sort of thing.  My dad chose to work in this way and was a straight-up guy.

What he said to me back then was that some chose to give up huge remuneration now for fine medical benefits and a decent pension in the future.  Even those benefits could not save him from colon cancer, but my mother has benefited from the choices he made for more than forty years.

I realize that this is one life philosophy, and that there are others.  Another person might do all he could to create his own valuable retirement pension, which would mean to make money on the front end.  I get that.

Somehow now these two “earning” philosophies seem to be getting mixed up.  Listening to the news all day while working, I have never once heard a commentator profile this choice;  the idea that the government might try to compete with the private sector in hiring by providing these nice pensions, and putting off some of the costs for these workers into the future, were they committed to the philosophy my father embraced.  It was a way to get good people without having to pay immediate huge costs for them, which the government could never afford.  Many people bought into this deal.  They said yes.

As a child, having had this explained to me, this is how I understood how we got postal workers, road maintenance people, all those service-type jobs.  I had assumed the best jobs were to use the brain, but this was another choice.  Perhaps the old story of the tortoise and the hare is at play here.

1-lionel

Now the people who chose to work for less for the benefit of security in the future are getting dissed. Someone stole their money and their security, even though they kept up their part of the deal.  Look at the happy workers above on my husband’s old Lionel Accessory Catalog.  Two different kinds of families, everybody happy, interested in the same goal.

It seems now that we don’t know who we are.  It is all about following the money, and crossing your fingers behind your back when you make a deal.  Don’t even get me going about the 25% reduction in my husband’s private sector pension.  How else can a company pay for a golden parachute?

The unexamined life is worth nothing.

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2 thoughts on “DEAR MR REICH

  1. Lee, once again your writing is food for thought. Perhaps some genius with an MBA is justifying his large salary by devising ways for employers to get out of the retirement owed workers.

    By the way, my father spent his last working days in army procurement. During the Viet Namn days, he procured and catalogued helicopter parts. I wonder if my father and your father ever met? Since your father passed away so young, perhaps not.

    Rob Sainz

  2. what an amazing coincidence! my dad died in 1974, he worked downtown at 12th and olive, i think. i don’t see how they could not have known each other. i chose a picture of a “huey” for the blog because he always used to talk about them. are you going to be around next weekend for the anniversary? would love to speak with you and margaret. we are flying in on friday.

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