A big hurt with real faces.
Pension buster Illinois Representative Elaine Nekritz wants to get into a numbers fight over the price tag of cost of living adjustments for retired teachers.
She got me thinking about some members of my old school board. Some who were active parents and supportive of our efforts in the classroom. As soon as they got elected they became soulless bean counters who saw nothing but spreadsheets and bottom lines instead of children and teachers. They described themselves as representing the taxpayers. As if they were elected for the sole purpose of keeping costs down.
What happens? Do they get a heart-ectomy? Do they go through some surgical procedure that drains all warm blood from their veins?
Legislators don’t seem to get that when they debate pensions they are talking about old folks – not just some abstract policy or program. Or they get it, but have become so cynical or driven by some market-based ideology that they just don’t give a damn.
I would accuse them of reading too much Ayn Rand. But based on those who I have met, the ability to read hasn’t appeared to be one of their problems.
Getting old is tough enough as it is without having to worry about whether the pension I planned on and was promised will be there.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m liking retirement a lot. But I’m also just starting out. I’m new at it.
My hearing may not be so good now, but my vision is fine. I can see the future – the good and the bad parts.
Did you know that the New York Times has a whole online section of articles devoted to getting old? Today there is an article about the new DSM5. It is the manual that decides what counts as a mental illness and what doesn’t.
The new manual includes something called Mild Cognitive Disorder. There are no biological markers and there’s no treatment. For most of us, MCD is just a sign that we’re getting older. Where did I put the keys? What the hell is that woman’s name?
Another article was about the correlation between hearing loss and dementia. I’m sorry. What did you say?
And I thought I just had Fred Klonsky Syndrome.
The medical industry wants to medicalize getting older. They want to make getting old a disease.
Anne is convinced that this is all just a plot to somehow cut Medicare benefits.
You tell her she’s paranoid.
The irony in all this is obvious. They add old age to the list of official disorders. But they cut pensions benefits. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you’re going to get the gift of being a disease that has no biological marker, treatment or cure, you have to give up something in return. Giving up your pension sounds about right.
Since I retired in June we have met with a lawyer to write our powers of attorney and wills. We are meeting with a financial advisor so that we can figure out how to make our pensions and savings last until we die. This has been made more difficult and uncertain thanks to the efforts of those like Representative Nekritz.
All this cannot help but make me think about death. It’s not like I’m consumed with the idea. In fact, more often than not it has been a wellspring of jokes and funny stories. But let’s face it. Turning 65 in June is a huge marker. It has its stresses.
And those who constantly threaten programs like Social Security (which Illinois teachers don’t get), Medicare and our state pensions need to see the faces of those they are hurting.
A big hurt on those with real faces.