Politics of Regulation on Retirement
Regulations: Ask different people what this word means to them and you will get a lot of different answers. Some will say regulations are an absolute necessity in our society, and some will treat the word like a swear word, saying regulation ruins innovation and stymies growth. However, those views may change drastically when the topic is drilled down to certain kinds of regulations. So instead of trying to talk about all regulations, it’s best to narrow the subject down to regulation of a specific type. Only then can we have an intellectual discussion about the topic.
Today we are going to look into regulations surrounding retirement funds and pensions in private companies. These benefits are often seen as one of the best benefits in privately owned companies. However, retirement and pensions are more and more often being sacrificed in tough economic times. But the upper management and CEOs of some private corporations may be using the recession as an excuse to force workers to give up their retirement benefits and pensions in order to pad their own retirement savings and company profits.
We have to remember that much of the purpose of a corporation is to make money, so it isn’t surprising, but it is appalling, to think that these private corporations can so easily take money from the retirement funds of their most loyal workers and use it for their own gain. This is a benefit that was promised to workers at the prime of their careers to help them plan for a time when they would retire after putting in many long years with a company. Corporations take advantage of a series of loopholes that are little known to the public to pull this money, meant for their work force, and convert it into “profit” for themselves. We don’t say bank robbers are not stealing, they are profiting by seizing the money of a bank, so why can these companies get away with it? Even when they cannot directly shovel cash out of your retirement, there are other means for them to force you to freeze or reduce your benefits while increasing their own benefits dramatically.
The WorldCom and Enron scandals both come immediately to mind with this type of action. However, there are thousands of other corporations that have done the same thing. Apparently after WorldCom and Enron, the media has decided “this is just how things are”. This is insane! “This is how it is” never, ever, justifies inaction to change. These types of horrible injustices will continue if we allow them to continue because of our own apathy.
It seems that these are no longer stories on the front page because this is how business is run in America. Business practices that involve taking from the workers and giving ridiculous amounts of money to the CEO is apparently what a small investment in elected officials will get you. The workers themselves have become a source of income for the upper tier of the corporation. Employees don’t get raises; they do not get more benefits and the benefits they do have already gained are being taken away. The workers get less and less while the upper tiers of these corporations get more and more. The employees have to take it because the job market is so terrible they know they have to be content with having steady employment.
But using people like this is amoral. This is ghastly. This is inexcusable.
This is why we need regulations regarding a company’s pension and retirement plans. These plans need to have protection and oversight or they will continue to be abused. Deregulation of pension and retirement plans was pitched as a benefit for the workers. Deregulation has been sold as a way to ensure the safety and security of the American people and the workforce. In fact, deregulation has destabilized the American work force, bringing uncertainty not only to those who are employed by companies that cannibalize their workers’ retirement funds, but to the majority of the American workforce. It has created a corporate environment where the American worker is forced to scrape by on stagnant wages, failing retirement and pension plans, and an unstable job market, while corporate coffers fill with the wages of American workers’ hard earned money. The upmost tiers of these corporations enjoy “profits” that are supposed to be our retirements while they themselves are being guaranteed ludicrously large sums of money in their retirement, and in some cases, even if they are fired for gross negligence!
If there is any hope to bring the American people back to a place where they can look forward to retirement, and can be assured of the pensions they have been promised for their entire lives, we must rip open this scandalous behavior and force regulations back into this area of business. We can no longer allow our hard earned money to be gambled away or stolen from us.
Share this with your friends, families and co-workers. You deserve to retire with your promised pension after a lifetime of hard work. You deserve to have the security that you will be taken care of when you most need it. You deserve confidence that a lifetime of work will be for your own prosperity, not another’s.