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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John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...

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