A pension fable for our times

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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My brother wanted to be an artist, so for many years our parents gave him the money they would have saved for retirement. He promised to pay it all back in monthly installments when they actually retired. Now they both must retire and need their monthly pension, but my brother is still not very successful.

However his wife's father owns a business where he could work and earn enough to pay back our parents. He is trying to squirm out of paying all that he owes, saying he cannot afford all of it on his current income and does not want to do what it takes to increase his income. And besides, our parents are just being greedy by wanting such a big pension. And besides, he's already contributing 5 percent of his income and why should he pay more? And besides, he's already cut off his daughter's piano lessons and his son's car payments.

So he's already paying more, and his dependents are already getting less, so it's only fair that our parents sacrifice too. So our parents suffer because my brother is not honorable enough to do what it takes to increase his income so he can pay his debts.

My brother should remind Senator Harmon of himself.

He is the "brother" senator who refuses to vote for increased state taxes to honor the state's pension promises to state workers and instead supports legislation that strips them of the retirement benefits they were promised and many need to survive.

Of course he can come up with rationalizations. I know them all — I have a Ph.D. in Business and Applied Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

So I hope Don will look deep inside himself, and decide what kind of "brother" he wants to be.

Darold Barnum

Professor at UIC and an Oak Park resident

Reader Comments

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King/Prof Louie  

Posted: April 11th, 2013 5:42 PM

Squire Donald, sure you're only a knight from a lowly duchy (USN&WR ranking of a meager 147), but you are spot on in pointing out that the serfs need to be much more generous with their labor in order to support both our guaranteed jobs for life AND enable us to retire early with our generous pensions! Don't these knaves appreciate the 3 classes that we teach every semester slaving for the peons? I know, let's raise the tuition even more - that'll show those scurvy dogs!!! Oh, the inhumanity!!

Brian from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 8:59 PM

Prose befitting a Loyal Prairiedog and UIC United Faculty Union Organizer. Am I correct?


Posted: April 10th, 2013 4:45 PM

If this is the warped logic that is being taught in our universities, we are in even more trouble than I thought. The one point I will agree with is that the idea of a government pension truly is a fable.

Glad my MBA is U of C from able to recognize speciousness  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 4:18 PM

Did Mom and Dad provide funding at a minimum level to meet a low performance standard for 25 years, and then demand the brother fund their retirement for 40 years, with significant annual increases and benefit regardless of cost, often equating to a 28% risk free return/year? Wharton logic, FAIL, the "true brother" never promised to pay the debt from his own labor, but from others' who were not a party to the promise and got little in return--the taxpayer. A true scary-tale, not a fable

The Rest of the Story  

Posted: April 10th, 2013 3:41 PM

You forgot to mention the part where Ma and Pa snuck in some small print in their contract that artificially inflated the salaries their pensions were based on by nearly 100% and the son is expected to pay this artificially inflated amount without question, because to question such blatant fraud and call it greed would be "parent-bashing". Fortunately the kingdom finally outlawed this greedy practice, but not before a generation of parents used it to empty the kingdom's coffers of their gold.

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