Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yes, But Hey, Let's Destroy Unions and Pensions!

You poor kids will have to support your parents while your kids are still in college.
My dad worked 45 years in construction. He was union. He got full health insurance for him and his family, including us younglings until we were 21 or out of college. This included full eyecare, dental, and disability coverage. The man didn't work an hour of overtime (although he did skip nearly every vacation he could so he could bank the paid time off.)
We were far from rich-- when he was out of work, we made do on sandwiches for lunch and dinner from the ham my mom would boil on Sundays-- but he managed to sock away a few bucks here and there such that he had about $250K put away when he retired. He and my mom almost outlived that money, but then they did not live a frugal retirement.
Had he not received a pension and Social Security, he would have easily outlived that money, and just around the time I was starting a family.
I look at my current circumstances and realize that I, too, feel I have put away almost enough to carry me through retirement and leave a little something for my kid. Before the 2008 market crash, I was a lot more certain. I worry that by the time I do retire, I won't be able to.
And I don't have a pension. I have a 401(k) and I make contributions to it to the maximum allowable. Hell, I even borrow against it when the markets tank just so I can force myself to guarantee some return on my investment (nothing like paying yourself interest.)
Companies used to match 401(k)s. I once worked for a firm that would match your withholdings, then match it again (that's right, you tripled your money on day one.) Now, I'm lucky if the corpoRATocrat ponies up a thousand bucks a year.
I look at my daughter, and feel she's the luckiest person on the face of the earth: she has three sets of elders working full time, all of whom will leave her money when they pass on. You see, there are no siblings or cousins around. She's it.
And even then, I feel this horrible twinge that it won't be enough. I've squirreled away some money for her, and she has some money that my folks put in trust for her, and that's barely going to get her started in life.
She'll be a leg up on me at her age, to be sure, but my future held promise. This world does not.