I feel compelled to comment on a seemingly tongue-in-cheek column by John Hubbuch. In it, he charges that “we boomers” should all retire to make way for younger employees to fill our positions. [Uncle Sam wants you … to retire, John Hubbuch, Feb. 11] As he put it, “Everyone eventually retires. Just do it earlier.”
Of course, there would be very little wrong with his advice if we all had assets to live off of for the remainder of our lives. Unfortunately, our stocks and home prices have dropped dramatically in value because of the massive mismanagement of our economy by political leaders, institutions and ideologies on both sides of the aisle.
While reading this column, I kept on looking for something clever or ironic – words that might indicate that Mr. Hubbuch understood that the economy needs someone to create the value that all those retirees will need to live off of. While I found some hints that he might understand that America’s “retirement mentality” is unsustainable, I came away thinking that Hubbuch has merely exposed himself as a believer in the “something-for-nothing” ideology that has become so rampant in America. How do I know this? Because Hubbuch admitted that he is partaking in the largest something-for-nothing scheme in America – the Illinois education industry’s retirement system.
You see, he was lucky enough to marry a teacher. While I congratulate Mr. Hubbuch for winning the “public employee union lotto,” the fact is that unless you are already married to a teacher who is about to retire, you probably will not be able to take a ride on the same gravy train that he has. Public pensions, particularly here in Illinois, are unsustainable. All of you young teachers reading this should know that your soon-to-be smaller pensions and paychecks are a result of a generation of Mrs. Hubbuchs benefiting from the abuse of the power of their unions, as well as the good will of the taxpayer.
So while Hubbuch is enjoying a constitutionally guaranteed check for the rest of his life, we tax-serfs are looking forward to declining property values, climbing property taxes, and state tax increases needed to fund a basket of promises that no society can afford. These tax increases, of course, will choke off the growth needed to provide jobs for our children.
But hey! Cheer up! Hubbuch is enjoying a jolly-old retirement. So forget about the fact that a huge chunk of your tax dollars go toward bureaucrats and their pensions. Forget about the fact that there’s no money to fund train tracks, health care, green technologies or new roads – much less the “educated populace” we are paying so dearly for. Forget about the fact that sooner or later more and more people will make the same calculation Hubbuch made and jump on the gravy train instead of pulling it.
Just remember this. As things get harder and harder, just put on your magic slippers, close your eyes, and repeat 10 times “hope and change, hope and change, hope and change … ” If that doesn’t work, you might wave your magic wand and say “Barack Obama! Stimulate me!”
Either way, Mr. Hubbuch is happy. You should be happy too!
Bruno Behrend, a River Forest resident since 2002, is a former radio host who fought the River Forest referendum in March of 2006.