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September 14, 2012


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Thank you for sharing this Jodi. This is a tragedy. It is absolutely disgusting.

And after reading it I think the experience also demonstrates the frutration one experiences in dealing with any bureaucracy - condescension, irritation and the standard run around. All of this further undermines peoples confidence in our institutions and government in particular. On top of that, your friend may wonder if even her union somehow betrayed her?

It just sucks.


A great post, yes. Everything that has to do with the most basic survival takes not only a huge amount of patience but also the skills that come with a college degree and the respect that comes with being white and speaking a prestige dialect of English. I just retired (as a professor), and I have been amazed at the complexity involved in pensions and health insurance. A lot of this has to do with the array of "choices" that you're given, most of which end up being no choices at all. The choices give us the illusion that we're "free", just as we're free to choose from 10 different brands of toilet paper, but they just make everything way more complicated than it ought to be. The very wealthy hire people to manage all this for them. At the other end of the spectrum, people like your friend just end up screwed. Which is of course the point.


sadly, jodi, what you've seen will be repeated millions of times as the baby boom retires...pensions are one of the crisis areas i've been aggregating news & studies on for over 3 years...back in 09 it wasnt uncommon for public pension funds to be funded with an expected return of 10% or more..(one in PA was at 17%)

although the largest, like CALPERS, CALSTERS, & NYC have reduced their expected returns to 7.5%, it doesnt take an actuary to see how impossible even that lower target is to hit in this interest rate environment...so we'll see them pitting the pensioners against raising taxes on the voters eventually...

private pension funds aint any better off: quoting a digby article: "companies have slashed and burned their way through their employees' benefits, leaving former workers either on Social Security or destitute -- and taxpayers with a huge burden that, as the baby boomer generation edges towards retirement, is likely to grow.'..."Over the last decade, some of the biggest companies -- including Bank of America, IBM, General Motors, GE and even the NFL -- found loopholes, abused ambiguous regulations and used litigation to turn their employees' hard-earned retirement funds into profits, and in some cases, executive compensation"


Jodi Dean

rjs--shit. It's like you know things are bad and then you look closely and confront your lack of imagination because they are so, so much work that it is barely conceivable.

crack--it's sickening, this capitalist so-called freedom to be screwed and exploited at every step.

Alain--her own story is even worse; a number of years ago she was denied workmen's comp for a shoulder injury she got a work--one of the reasons had to do with a complicated medical form. She wasn't sure how to fill it out, didn't want to bother a doctor, and had briefly worked at another place (because she needed the money) which complicated the chain of who owed what to whom. It's like all the things the working poor need are packaged up as a massive stinking shit sandwich that they are supposed to be grateful for even as it doesn't give them what it promises and everyone condemns them for receiving it.


Jodi, thank you very much for posting this. It convinces me further, frankly, that those of us on the left who vote for Barack Obama this fall must hold his feet to the fire for the working poor. Not once during the whole democratic convention did anyone even hint at the crushing burdens confronting the 45,000,000 people who live below the poverty, the likely larger number who, though they work, cannot get through a week without several visits to the food bank, and those like your friend who are deprived of their pensions. All that talk of the middle class? The use even (at a Democratic convention no less!) of the phrase "pull oneself up by the bootstraps?" But boy, Michelle Obama sure looked purty in that dress. And didn't Clinton deliver? And Barack Obama, our first black president!

This story is sickening. Your blog is wonderful but this story belongs in the New York Times, The Washington Post, on CNN, MSNBC. Most of all, it belongs in the Oval Office.


jodi, i have linked to this post in a comment on an open thread at angry bear, where i have posted very irregularly...


there were a few comments on it and some advice in subsequent comments...

i dont know if any of it will be helpful, but social security experts are well represented among the regulars there, if you have any questions in that regard...

Jodi Dean

Thanks, Sulapeace.

RJS--I checked out that thread. Some very good advice re going to the SSA and seeing what the situation is. I'll prob end up taking my friend over there in the next couple of weeks. Anyway, thanks so much.

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