Facing the facts about welfare

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

I have been ashamed to admit it, but I am second-generation welfare. When my dad retired back in the 1980s from a meat-packing company in southern Indiana, he was to receive a $600 per month pension from his company, but it had gone bankrupt — along with my dad's pension. However, President Ford had signed legislation creating the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation that insured busted pension plans and my dad's retirement was saved. That $600 a month made a big difference in his life.

Flash forward to the 21st century and the same thing happened to me. One of my law firms dissolved, along with its pension plan, but the sweet teat of the PBGC will insure my pension. I get my first check in January. I am, of course, glad to get the money, but I will always have the shame of being a welfare recipient. I never wanted to be one of Mitt Romney's 47 percent, dependent upon government. Hopefully, my sons can break the welfare cycle. Time will tell. They have good jobs for now, but then so did the employees of Enron.

While I'm in confession mode, I suppose I should disclose my full welfare story. In addition to my PBGC pension, I received subsidized loans from the federal government to help pay for my college education. I have received tax breaks for being married, having children and owning a home.

By retirement, I paid in a total of $213,000 to Social Security. Based on my monthly benefit, this sum will be completely paid out by the time I'm 73. I can therefore reasonably expect to sop up government gravy for a long time. I feel bad, but I'm sure I will be able use the money. Same thing with Medicare. I only paid in $53,000, which will be exhausted with my first trip to the hospital for pneumonia. So many entitlements. I'm not a double-dipper. I'm a quadro-dipper.

Being a second-generation welfare recipient does make me more sympathetic to others who receive support from government. I can better understand why hungry people could use food stamps to feed their families, and to receive free or subsidized medical care to relieve their pain and suffering. It just doesn't seem right that those with less need actually receive more welfare while those with more need receive less.

Maybe if everyone received welfare, we would have a greater understanding of the increased role government plays in modern society. But then, of course, that's precisely the case.

Everyone is on welfare.

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David Keene from Denver  

Posted: December 2nd, 2013 3:56 PM

Very nice, John. The problem is that the money you paid into the system was legitimate greenback cash; the money you will be receiving in the future will be paid in worthless Obama-bucks.


Posted: November 27th, 2013 2:32 PM

He not oblivious. He is intentially irkesome, again. You should have saved your "I got mine screw you" article until after the holidays.

Collateral Damage  

Posted: November 27th, 2013 2:05 PM

A perfect example of the unique baby boomer combination of entitlement and obliviousness.


Posted: November 27th, 2013 10:22 AM

The one commonality in the various things you mention: government has screwed them up. The PBGC is a complete mess going broke. Welfare is completely out of control, as evidenced by both the number of Welfare recipients, abuse of disability and the SNAP (food stamps) program. The meddling of the Federal government in student financial aid has created a bubble in student loans and resulted in the overpricing of college education. But yes, we're all on Welfare, so don't anyone criticize that.


Posted: November 27th, 2013 9:52 AM

Mr Middle raises a good point. Pension insurance premiums should be raised substantially to cover any deficits and that entire cost should be absorbed by the pension programs themselves. And perhaps pension funds can set aside monies for any private sector IRA/401k plans that have substantial losses like we experienced 5 years ago as a temporary, interest free loan until the markets recover? After all, we're all in this together, right? <sound of crickets from pensioners>

Jim from South Oak Park  

Posted: November 27th, 2013 9:48 AM

Be nice if the facts were right. PBGC hasn't used taxpayer dollars to pay you or dad. Payments come from insurance premiums on pension plans. (Whole other issue on Congress screwing up PBGS fiscal integrity.) And, Social Security payments come from taxes on employees and employers. The U.S. general fund owes SS some $2.7 trillion, so far, payments are coming from our contributions. Did your payout math include your employer's contributions? Makes a big difference on that age you suggested.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: November 27th, 2013 6:22 AM

Government has its function and you point out some very good ones. However the PBGC is a perfect example of G stepping in and perverting the market. Instead of holding Pension accountable in the first place G sets rules that allow Pension failures and a shifting of the burden to others. A company is allowed to escape its responsibility because the PBGC exists. I might add that the PBGC is $38 BILLION in the hole and congress will not allow them to raise rates on insurance to proper levels.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 27th, 2013 1:50 AM

Great article Mr. Hubbach. It really makes you think.

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