by Stan Moore
"If Americans want change they can believe in, they need to make sure the government bails out pension plans first and executives last."
The U.S. Government, both political parties included, always finds funding for another war or an expansion of existing wars. Even if it means borrowing from foreign governments and placing the debt burden on future generations of U.S. citizens, the wars must go on.
The same is true with regard to bank bailouts and trillions of dollars of financing for speculative debt, as in derivative investments. No price is too large to pay to help billionaires remain as billionaires and millionaires as millionaires. In this process, multimillion dollar individual bonuses are par for the course. And executives who end up losing their jobs after a period of subpar performance always end up with golden parachutes worth millions of dollars to ease their slide into the world of the unemployed.
However, if you worked for a wage for decades for an automaker or an airline or other business, and that business reaches a position of financial difficulty, not only is your job at stake, but so is your retirement pension. Your health benefits, too, can disappear into the ether as soon as a bankruptcy court or the Congress intervenes to keep your company afloat. Companies are important and they count in the accounting for the economy by the government. Employees and pensions are considered liabilities and discarded as such.
Millions of American workers are at risk of losing all the retirement benefits they earned according to work contracts. Companies build up huge debts, that can include retirement expenses for past and current employees, and then they dump those contracts when financial trouble appears. Better to drop employee retirements for those working thirty years than to drop the golden parachute payouts for executives who come in like mercenaries to reshuffle the company books and they parachute off to retirement.
Barack Obama offers no change in this regard. He wants to keep the economy afloat by shoring up the top-heavy structure of finance and executive business administration across the board. But the pensions are off the table. Of course, Obama sympathizes with the workers and knows how tough their situation is. But there just is not enough money to go around, and the priorities are set.
If Americans want change they can believe in, they need to make sure the government bails out pension plans first and executives last.