Detroit Pensions Are Frozen, Then Thawed

This NYT article keeps popping up in my Recommended feed. I tried to ignore it for a while, but I could not any longer.

It makes me upset, really.

Detroit is bankrupt.

I get it.

What I don’t get is how a government can even argue to wipe out thousands of people’s pensions because it mismanaged money.

I work hard (at a job I probably hate) for decades, remain in a city where there’s a mass exodus and a decaying public service system because maybe I can have a solid retirement and then I can’t get my money?

I think such a move lacks integrity and it lacks compassion for the retired, middle-aged, and elderly communities.

I know such a move financially makes sense, yet that’s what’s wrong with the United States. We’re willing to gut thousands of people of their livelihoods in the name of the bottom line.

The bottom line is always the excuse, and I’m tired of hearing it. It’s easy to argue people can’t get their pensions when you’re sitting pretty on a separate retirement system of your own.

If my behind goes bankrupt the government still finds a way to reach into my pockets because only certain types of debt can be wiped out in bankruptcy court, but when the government goes bankrupt there’s not a way for me to get into its pockets for the money that I paid into the system? It doesn’t make sense.

Really, it does. I’m just not ruthless enough.

I was talking about this issue with some of my Venezuelan colleagues because they were looking at their own retirement system (which I pay into a little bit too). From what I hear, it’s a weak safety net at best, useless at worst.

Saving for old age is not a game because the faceless corporation/public entity is not looking out for your best interests. But what happens when the faceless public entity is all that you have to rely on? What happens when you don’t have more disposable income to put into a Swiss bank account? When there’s not an inheritance?

You pray, save, and hope you won’t one day be in a situation like some of the retirees in Detroit.

I can’t imagine being a teacher–educating the city’s youth for decades-and then being told I can’t get my pension.

Yet this is the argument certain sectors are using again and again as to why cities are financially unstable. Teachers’ pension are too high. The union workers’ pensions are exorbitant. The unions demand too much, etc, etc…

It shows a lack of respect for police officers, fire fighters, teachers, and other public servants that we give our lives to help the community just for certain Powers That Be to tell us our old age pensions are damaging the city.

No, greed, corruption, and mismanagement are hurting the city.

I’ll keep following what’s happening in Detroit because I believe what’s happening there will have a ripple effect on public workers’ pensions across the country.

One way or another, I’ll eventually feel that ripple too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s