Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Unemployment and Pensions

I hope that we are at some kind of turning point in our society. I think we are. I perceive that people are thinking harder about what we all want out of life -- and our government. Consumerism and a work ethic without reward seem to be losing their luster.

But first things first. Buffet Fan and The Angry Bureaucrat were both kind enough to do some calculations on the unemployment numbers for me. I appreciate it. 8% isn’t great but it’s better than 8.5%.

And speaking of unemployment...just because I haven’t been able to work it in anywhere else...

I surprised an Episcopal priest the another day when I asked about the prayer for unemployed. “A prayer for the unemployed?” Yep. After growing up Baptist, I have a real appreciation for written prayers. Short, to the point and no more struggling to find the right words. In case you ever need a well-written prayer for public use, now you know where to find one.

For the Unemployed

”Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer
want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this
land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find
suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment
for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

(Just another tidbit before I move on. The Book of Common Prayer is where you find that bit about ashes to ashes, dust to dust that you hear in the movies all the time. Hollywood knows good writing when it hears it.)

Did you notice the line about “so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment”? Public and private wealth. We could think about that for a while. Think oil fields in our territorial waters. Think trees in our national forests. Let your mind wander over that public wealth for a moment or two. Some private companies get very, very rich (not to mention powerful) by exploiting our public wealth.

I like the part about “suitable and fulfilling employment” too. That part sounds easy for the folks on the right side of the curve. It’s not so easy for the those on the left side.

Are they not also deserving of “suitable and fulfilling employment”? And how about a pension?

You thought I’d forgotten about that part didn’t you? I think the general public needs an education about pensions. A pension isn’t some gift a corporation bestows on you. It is part of a worker’s “ just payment for their labor”. Even I, a Federal retiree, was required to pay money into my retirement. The government -- just like other employers -- factors the cost of administering those funds as part of your compensation.

What would you do if somebody snatched your paycheck out of your hands? Chase them down and beat them? Shoot them? Call the cops? Why do we consider entities that steal pensions any different than common thieves? “Wall Street” (et al.) stole a lot of pensions. Billions if not trillions of dollars worth. The rating agencies helped them by rating junk as triple-A investments. Retirement funds are not pools of money you take to Vegas and gamble. They are supposed to be put into the safest of investments. It was all a con and the thieves got rich.

Take a look at your retirement fund and notice the big hole blown in it by the Great Recession. Then remember the unemployed. You probably saw a recovery in your retirement fund. They didn’t. You might want to say a prayer for them.

Don Brown
January 21, 2011


Travis said...

For a lot more detail (and alarming and outrageous corporate executive behavior) on pensions, read How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers by Ellen E. Schultz.

Labrador Blue Dog said...

Great commentary. Thanks!