seajane

Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Sunday, October 30, 2005

My Letter to CBS News on Ben Stein's Commentary

CBS Sunday Morning has been one of my favorite-never-miss programs for decades but this Sunday (October 30th) Ben Stein commented on the Delphi bankruptcy and concluded that workers need to be responsible for their own retirement. He also made a comment something like the working class are something lower than the middle class.

Is commentary is elitist and outrageous. He blames the victims instead and lets the greedy companies off the hook. Good working class people did take on the responsibility for their own retirement. In the 50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s, during contentious union contract negotiations, to the outrage of many union members, union leadership agreed to forego raises for the rank and file so the union member could afford to set something for their own retirement. Instead the unions took the companies at their word and promise to provide deferred compensation after the member retired. This was what helped build the working class into the middle class in the country. Since World War II the working class and middle class have been the one and the same.

Now these companies want to go back on their promises, break their word and the contracts and commentators like Ben Stein appear to think that’s fine.

I wonder how Mr. Stein would feel if his stock broker and bank said “Oh, I know we promised you to hold your money and return it to you later, but we’ve spent it. Sorry you don’t have any savings to live off of during your retirement”? I bet he would insist that they live up to their fiduciary responsibilities and would not blame himself. I also bet he would look to the Government guarantees available to customers of banks and stock brokers to protect him from their defalcations.

These employing companies like Delphi were given and willingly accepted the fiduciary responsibility to provide for the deferred compensation for their employees. Just because China or Mexico workers have a lower wage today doesn’t erase that fiduciary responsibility. Instead of high dividends and high CEO salaries, management should have been putting aside sufficient funds to meet these obligations and the stock holders and past and present management who benefited from this fraud should be held responsible.

I believe, unfortunately, that the management and stockholders will get off free and clear and the burden will fall on the taxpayer to cover these frauds. Hopefully Mr. Stein is in a tax bracket that has benefit from the tax cuts so he will be insulated from this expense and won’t be inconvenienced. Let the working class eat cake! Right?

Jane Johnson
Olympia, WA


What a jerk!

4 Comments:

  • At 2:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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  • At 11:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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  • At 6:10 AM , Blogger gladys99 said...

    Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

    I have a retirement advisor site. It pretty much covers financial advisor trainging and reitirement planning.

    Come and check it out if you get time :-)

     
  • At 8:48 AM , Blogger Matthew said...

    "... union leadership agreed to forego raises for the rank and file so the union member could afford to set something for their own retirement. Instead the unions took the companies at their word and promise to provide deferred compensation after the member retired."
    It seems to me that this action is just what Stein was citing -- that the worker, or union, was placing responsibility for partial retirement funds in the hands of employers.
    Further, employer pensions shouldn't be counted on as the single source of retirement income. Relying on only a single source (all the eggs in one basket) is foolhardy. I'm sure Mr. Stein, while outraged at his banker, would have other options to liquidate than just a savings account (most rich people's money comes from holdings anyways).

    "Hopefully Mr. Stein is in a tax bracket that has benefit from the tax cuts ..."
    Do you know what percent of income that "tax bracket" is taken in tax each year? Nearly 40 percent. I think he probably pays enough in as it is.

    What part of the end cost of an item is present because of outrageous pension and retirement plans, forced into contracts by greedy unions in the middle of the century? At one point GM's retiree benefits were costing the consumer almost 4000 USD per car. Outrageous. Make money, but don't make the rest of the country fund a private Social Security fund because the spoils of a bloated union's contract stonewalling are finally maturing and the companies are realizing they can't make a profit anymore.

     

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