The Never Ending Story

It is the 22nd of June in South Minneapolis. We are one of 256,000 homes without electricity. There are about 2 hours of power left in this laptop. Will the power last long enough to see me to the end of this message?

If in the next legislative session, or the legislative sessions to come, our publicly supported defined-benefit succumbs to the storms of attack, we could all be sitting in our homes wondering whether there will be enough money to see us to the end of our lives. We can prepare, as best we can, but for most of us we must continue to fight to protect our retirement.

Stocking up on candles and kerosene, moving vulnerable items, removing tree limbs, taping windows, having a plan for the food in the freezer… We try to plan for the storms, and hope they will not come or that they will be gentle with us. But hopes and wishes may not keep the trees standing in this time of climate change, and hopes and wishes for our pensions may not keep the political storms from attacking our retirement security in this time of political climate change.

The one good year we have enjoyed is not a bulwark against the rapacious forces eyeing the billions of dollars that go out to retired teachers and principals every year. Those greedy forces that stand behind such organizations as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are poised like villains in a Superman comic book to hurl assault after assault at public pension funds.

The Committee of Thirteen’s fight to preserve your retirement security continues even as we enjoy the soft support of the current political environment. All the same, we must constantly shore up the little political erosions that weaken the levies that we hope will hold back the floods. Watching and trying to anticipate attacks small and large keeps us on guard. And you should be on guard with us.

We cannot do it for you; we can only do it with you. Your contributions, your phone-banking hours, your door-knocking and your talking to friends and neighbors helped elect a far more favorable legislature in 2012. That kind of help is needed. They will not wait for an election to go after our pensions.

Here’s what they say. Kim “Crockett has also been invited by LCPR Chair Sandy Pappas to attend the Commission in the interim time between legislative sessions and to talk, for example, about how Minnesota can transition to a defined contribution plan…” (from The Center for the American Experiment newsletter #6, summer 2013) [editor’s bold type] That defined contribution plan would put an active teacher’s payroll contribution in an individual’s personally managed annuity. That contribution would not go into a shared, well-managed public pension fund; the TRA pension fund would be terminated.

The flow of pension contributions coming from active members is like the electrical power coming to your house. When the power goes out, it’s just a matter of time. So we must be in the discussions. The C of 13 will be covering the Commission’s interim meetings. We will be calling on teachers active and retired to speak. And we will continue to reach out and educate all our members about the issues and advise you all on what you can do to help keep the lights on.

Our foes have the money to hire the lackeys to carry out their greed. We have the will, the strength and the numbers to resist. In unity and cause we will prevail.