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AMERICAS BETRAYED BABY BOOMERS

 

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MIKE WESTFALL

 

6-2005

 

I was raised in Montrose Michigan. Montrose was a friendly small town near Flint not unlike many other small towns across our nation.

In Montrose our fathers went off to war to protect us and save the world from oppression in the 1940’s. My dad was a sergeant in the army and was severely wounded by a German attack where he was shot in the lung and had part of his elbow blown off. Our soldiers lucky enough to return home alive came home to make a better life for themselves and their Baby Boomer children. Americans born between 1946-1964 are their Boomer children.

After a life of hard work spent enriching our employers, paying into social security, paying into pension plans and paying the taxes to support our nation our Boomers have delivered our great country to the threshold of being the undisputable strongest and most desired nation on earth.

Boomers have left a tremendous legacy and now they are now retiring. How are they being treated in their golden years?

They are being betrayed!

Boomers are arriving to the gates of retirement to find that their employers are attempting to go bankrupt so they can break pension promises and slicing Boomers health care at a point in their age when they most need it. On top of that our government wants to “cut and gut” Social Security.

Our Boomers are being treated very badly and their “Twilight Retirement Years” are turning into the… “Twilight Zone”!

After a lifetime of work and sacrifice Boomers should not have to worry that their social security will be snatched away, their pensions wiped out or their health insurances eliminated just when they need it the most.

SOCIAL SECURITY

The public outcry against harming Social Security has been and will continue to be its best defense in keeping it intact and vital. Social Security is one of the best success stories of the last century and contributes 90 % of the total income for 1/3 of all Americans over the age of 65. Just what are these folks going to do if it is watered down or restructured away?

S.S. is the only portion of retirement income that is guaraneed and provides disability and survivor benefits for all ages. It is adjusted regularly to keep up with inflation and was designed so recipients could not outlive it. That is why it is called… Social Security. Some politicians today have changed the definition to “Social Insecurity”. Why is it that historically our citizens and retirees have “always” been able to rely on it but now some politicians think today’s Boomers don’t deserve it?

There are political parasites in Washington who have for decades been draining off our S.S. funds and using them for other purposes. Now they say S.S. is going broke. Can these same politicians be trusted? Are they telling the truth? The importance of this dilemma is to enormous to take the word of political hucksters.

If S.S. Is in the financial trouble that they suggest then it is because they have had “their sticky fingers” in the cookie jar. They need to take their greedy fingers out of the jar. Most likey social security is not even close to being in as much trouble as these politicians are claiming and really isn’t in an immediate crisis at all.

What politicians who blame the Boomers for the so called S.S. shortfall haven’t mentioned is that they know that “all” the Boomers will have whizzed through the system within a well-defined and predictable period of time and then Social Security will revert back to normal. That is if we don’t allow them to compromise or destroy it for the next generation.

Important Democrats are fighting President Bush on the S.S. issue and many Christian workers perceive the Democrats as rightfully having low marks on moral values when it comes to the issues of abortion, gay marriage etc.

Our nation has allowed the abortion of over 40 million of our children and grandchildren. That huge number is equal to over one half of the Boomer generation. All of those lost potential tax paying adults are the folks that would have been buying today’s new cars and other American products. They would be the young folks whom would now be funding the Social security programs, attending the schools and making meaningful contributions to our society.

When it comes to some worker issues, however, the Democrats hit the mark better then many Republicans. This duality in issues versus values creates a dilemma for Christian workers who also vote.

One of the most important retirement questions today is do future retirees want the same options for a decent retirement as those in the past. The ongoing governmental attacks on social Security make it critical that it not only be protected but also strengthened.  Social Security unlike some other governmental programs is very popular with all Americans and not just retirees. Younger workers care about their parents and grandparents and realize that they will retiree some day and also need a viable social security base for their own retirements.

If politicians are smart and want to stay in politics they had better listen up because our population will not tolerate negative changes to Social Security.

Means testing Social Security for middle income Americans will be another form of political suicide for politicians. Boomers won’t quietly set back and allow political prostitutes to rob them of the benefits that they would have deserved . It won’t quietly happen.

Boomers are fed up with the bureaucrats that want to ruin their social security when it needs to be strengthened. Boomers make up a large and powerful segment of our nation and they are from a more militant generation. If politicians hurt Social Security the boomers will see to it that those politicians political careers will die a fast death at the voting booths.

PENSIONS

While working our Boomers traded defined pension plans with health care benefits in place of wage and salary increases. Workers paid for these benefits.

Conniving blue chip American companies are now devising ways to declare bankruptcy when they are far from broke and then terminate and hand over their pension responsibilities to the governments “Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.” or PBGC. Taxpayers are then forced to pick up the tab.

The PBGC then gives many of these shell shocked workers only a fraction of their pensions compared to what these workers planned for, their unions negotiated and their employers promised. This exchanges the workers earned negotiated pensions for a state sponsored welfare program.

The companies steal these workers pensions and then our governments PBGC program comes in and “rescues,” “not our suffering workers”, but the companies from their pension responsibilities and delivers the retirees a double blow knockout. Something doesn’t smell right here!

As the government allows more companies to weasel out and terminate defined benefit plans and the PBGC is over whelmed with costs just who is going to cover the costs then? How much lower will the actual pension payouts drop for affected retirees?

Multi millionaire California govorner movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared that he wants to trash the existing pension plans of California’s teachers, nurses and firefighters. If successful this could easily begin a pattern nationwide.

Companies, with help from corporate biased politicians, have been able to under fund pensions, restructure and export away the jobs of the workers necessary to fund these programs, make “profound management mistakes”, manipulate the bankruptcy laws and then with their large legal staffs shift their mistakes onto the white collar and blue collar backs of American workers, retirees and taxpayers.

On these issues the color of your collar or position of employment doesn’t matter. If you live in America and you work you will be affected…if you haven’t been you will be.

Our government in allowing these companies who are worth billions of dollars to shirk their pension responsibilities and go bankrupt after openly stating that they are making these legal moves exclusively to get out of paying. This is the worst kind of betrayal for our devastated Boomers.

Is this the way we want to be treated when we are in our most vulnerable retirement years?

In a few short years these companies will be making more money then ever but with a trail of devastated workers left behind. Our government is allowing it and it is immoral and it is wrong.

This retirement dilemma is not a personal problem politicians and corporate leaders will face because they have seen to it that they have the safest and best pensions on top of all their other perks. They have been able to do it at the workers expense.

This is a problem that only the workers, retirees and their families face.

Through all of their working years these affected retirees traded wage and salary increases off for their pension benefits.

Do future retirees have to worry about future contracts? You bet ! Workers know that the way Boomers are treated is the way that they and their spouses will be treated when they retire.

The promises made to retirees must not be broken. Any potential future changes made on pensions must be made with protective qualifiers that transition rules would be built in that guarantee that the system has an obligation to continue honoring benefits to todays retirees and to others close to retiring because the rules would have changed and these workers have no other safety net.

Once retired Boomers will find it impossible to find part time employment rich enough to cover these stolen benefits. Who wants to spend their retirement years doing this?

UNIONS

There is something deeper and much more devious going on here then what meets the eye.

It is bait and switch-smoke and mirror situation by design that will tend to redefine or seriously “reduce” the power of organized labor in all areas of employment if successful. The intent is the attempt to use Social Security changes and our defined pension program, which sets benefits for retirees, as the grease to do it. That is the quiet corporate collaborative priority.

Twenty-five years ago we had almost 129,000 defined pension plans. Today we have only around 25,000 and the numbers are dropping like a rock.

The combination of redefined Social Security and private investment accounts would help eliminate the defined pension program. Period!

Unions have been able to use these large defined pension funds in a beneficial way for workers over the years to exert political pressure and when these pension funds dry up so will the unions clout. The corporate leaders and their sympathetic political friends know this.

Unions and bargaining power could instantly become redundant relative to the past.

Fifty years ago unions protected about 1/3 of our nations workers. Today, when you factor out governmental workers, only a little over seven percent of our workforce is protected by organized labor.

Corporations have been allowed to restructure and export away hundreds of thousands our best jobs, which were almost exclusively union represented.

Many misguided individuals in our society allude and believe out of ignorance that unions by nature are corrupt and detrimental to society. This is false. Unions have kept the workers safer in the workplace and have offered a decent standard of living, which has benefited and had a domino effect throughout our entire society.

Some call unions socialistic when at the same time these same hypocrites fully use social security, Medicare and many other American programs set up to benefit the masses.

What were workers lives like before unions?

Corporate leaders and many politicians are seriously attempting to revert back to those times.

While I would be the first to say that we have experienced very weak UAW leadership since the Reuthers I would also say that our workers need strong union leaders today more now then at any other time in the history of our nation because the middle class better paid jobs are being completely and deliberately restructured away.

The organized labor model is in a fight for its life and unions as we know them are an endangered species.

Many workers have seen their plants close, subjected their families to crazy work shift patterns and even caved in to totally unfair two tier wage settlements where two workers doing equal and similar work working directly next to each other make profoundly different wages. Workers have been forced to shift their families from town to town and state to state to stay employed and then be faced with this. This is crazy and it is wrong!

The Reuther brothers would roll over in their graves if they knew what was happening to all workers in America today.

HEALTHCARE

Healthcare is another benefit that corporations are now calling “unfortunate Legacy costs”. They want to slice health care benefits to their workers and retirees.

Health care is one of our countries most ridiculously overpriced commodities because the medical establishment has taken tremendous advantage of the American people. They have shown absolutely no restraint in holding down prices and continue to “gouge” our nation with no regards for the suffering of our people.

When it comes to healthcare not everyone is born with the ability or luck to earn the kind of outrageous high costs the medical profession demands for its services.

Does that make our less fortunate Americans second-class citizens that don’t deserve health care for their spouses and children? In our country if some type of insurance program doesn’t cover them it does.

If any group is bringing our economy down to its knees and needs to be targeted it is the healthcare profession in this country.

If they aren’t stopped soon they are going to kill their golden goose.

While we are the only industrialized nation in the world who has failed to make health care available to all our citizens we also spend more on health care then any other nation on the globe.

Why is this so? Aren’t we as smart as other nations or is it that our politicians don’t think our people are worthy of being protected?

America’s fragmented healthcare is available to only those who can afford it and our expensive health care is quickly becoming less affordable for more and more of our citizens.

We give incredible sums of money to the arts and a multitude of other causes to help them survive and we send billions of dollars to other countries to take care of other countries people yet basic healthcare for our suffering less fortunate fellow citizens is out of the question. Come on that is not right!

This situation really is tragic and disgusting to anyone with an honest sense of fairness and decency.

We have the potential for a national crisis on our hands.

If not careful our middle class with whom every other nation wants to emulate is going to expire and we will become a two-class society.

The few wealthy at the top who can afford whatever they want and the masses of poor workers at the bottom who struggle all their lives to pay the taxes while lacking health care and never achieving a decent retirement or the American dream as they work from cradle to grave. It is not as far fetched as you might think. It is the future of our children we are discussing here.

What kind of talentless, ungrateful and morally challenged political and corporate leaders do we have in power in this country today who have allowed these situations to get to this point and then offer up for sacrifice the very people who have always paid the nations bills?

Americas Boomers have given our country their accumulated experience, knowledge, wisdom and skills.

Now Boomers are being targeted by the very system they helped create and nurture.

The boomers are a huge and important part of our nation. They are the parents and grandparents.

The boomers health care is threatened, their pensions are threatened and their social security is threatened.

When the Boomers are threatened all workers share the same threat equally because “their futures” are linked to the “Boomers present”.

michaelwestfall.tripod.com

 

 


 


 

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