Monday, February 21, 2011

The Deal of the Day

Old Bill was a fine fellow, a man about town, caller of the weekly bingo games down at the DAV hall, and a sometime general factotum at the construction company, where I worked back in the day.

Not that he had to work—he was well set after twenty years working for a municipality back up in Ohio, first as a policeman, then as a fireman. “Was you on the force?” he asked enthusiastically. No, I was actually working there for a living, not as a sideline and for pin money as he was.

He came out of Ohio, he said, with full insurance coverage—medical, optical, dental for himself and his family presumably in perpetuity. His generous pension was twice what the average worker in our town was making. In today’s money it would easily be in six figures. He had no trouble keeping his large house up, his two cars on the road, a nice boat in the water, and at least one of his kids college tuition paid.

Sure, Bill had paid his dues, and had every right to cash in on the American dream. I didn’t begrudge him any of it, and to be fair, his attitude was “doesn’t everyone get this deal?”

I’d been around long enough to realize that no, not everyone gets this deal. In fact, if everyone got this kind of deal, it might be nice, but there is no way that our economy can sustain such a thing.

So now, years later, states and municipalities are beginning to realize that a giveaway to what is essentially a select few cannot be sustained—witness the goings on in Wisconsin. A number of local governments, like one with which I am familiar in Florida, saw the ultimate impossibility of paying retired employees full medical benefits for life, and quietly withdrew the “privilege” from new hires, so that new wage slaves would not be getting the same deal as their co-workers sitting a few feet away.

I imagine we will be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing, as local taxpayers realize that, essentially, they have been had.

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